LAHORE - India High Commissioner in Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal said India would try to ensure that maximum number of Pakistani fans travel across the border to watch matches when the two countries resume cricket ties next month after a gap of five years.

Sabharwal said the PCB chief had written to him sometime back regarding issuance of special category visas. "There is still work in progress and I can't say anything specific on this issue. But we are very actively looking at this issue and are giving a thought to it and our effort will be to ensure maximum number of people get to watch the matches in India," Sabharwal said.

"I had a meeting with Zaka Ashraf and congratulated him on the work done by the PCB and BCCI to ensure that the cricketing ties, which were in abeyance for sometime, are being resumed," he said.

It is being hoped that the visa issue would be settled soon and talks are on with the Indian government to resolve the issue of accommodating maximum number of Pakistani fans to witness the One-day and Twenty20 matches there, a source revealed.

"I had a meeting with Zaka Ashraf today and congratulated him on the work done by the PCB and BCCI to ensure that the cricketing ties, which were in abeyance for sometime, are being resumed," he said.

It has also been learnt that Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik will visiting India from November 22 and he will also discuss the visas issue with the Indian government for the Pakistani cricket fans. It is being hoped that the issue would be solved amicably to accommodate maximum number of fans during the series, the source revealed.

Pakistan team is due to leave India on December 22 to play two T20 matches and three one-day internationals.  The first T20 will be played in Bangalore and second in Ahmedabad while three One-day matches will be played in Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi.

To a query about whether he would recommend to his government to send the Indian team to Pakistan next year, Sabharwal said that he would not like to impose himself on territory which belongs to the two Boards.

"I can tell you that we in principle encourage and want expansion of sports between the two countries but what matches are to be played and when they are to be played I leave that to the Boards," he said.

Sabharwal also assured good security for the Pakistani players in India. "We are encouraging people-to-people contact and sports ties also play an important role and we feel this coming series could be an important step in better relations," he added. The Indian HC said during his visit he had been impressed by the facilities at the national cricket academy.

Ashraf said PCB was greatly honoured by the visit of the Indian HC to the Board office. "He has been kind to accept our invitation to come to Lahore and visit our offices. I think the understanding is on Pakistan and India side that lot of other positive developments are coming up. The Indian HC has given some very positive signals for Pakistani cricket fans," Ashraf said.

Zaka Ashraf said he had no doubt international cricket will come to Pakistan once the security issue is taken off. In this regard Zaka cited the example of the recently-concluded brief tour by the British Army team and termed it a small step forward towards the revival of international cricket in the country. Ashraf described the visit by the British team to play a couple of T20 matches and one One-dayer against the Pakistan Army XI and a PCB XI as a ray of hope for future international tours.

"I am really happy to see the British Army team playing on Pakistan soil and enjoying their stay here. It is an achievement by the Pakistan Army Sports Board to invite them and will also help us in our endeavours to convince international teams to tour Pakistan again," said Ashraf.

"I am also thankful to the British Defence Ministry including the British High Commission in Pakistan since they have helped us in hosting this event besides sending a positive message that Pakistan is a safe cricketing nation," he said. No Test playing nation has visited Pakistan since March, 2009 after militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore. But, last month, the Sindh provincial government hosted a world international eleven for two T20 matches at the national stadium in Karachi which rekindled hope of international cricket finally returning to Pakistan.

The PCB is also in talks with the Bangladesh Cricket Board and some other boards to send their teams to Pakistan but the PCB chief has admitted that these tours are dependent on fool-proof security being provided to these teams.

Jacques Prinsloo, the captain of the visiting British team, has also raised the hopes of the PCB and the cricket fraternity with his encouraging comments after the tour concluded. "We have been really impressed by the security and hospitality provided to us on this short tour and the surprise for us has been the Pakistani food. The food has been a bonus for us on this tour," Prinsloo said. The British Army team played four T20 matches against the Pakistan Army team and one game against a PCB XI which included some top national team players.

New Delhi: The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) has asked the Indian cricket board to consider an early start to the third and last On-Day International (ODI) against Pakistan at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Jan 6 in view of the heavy winter dew so as to negate an unfair advantage to the side winning the toss.